Interviews with People at the Top of their Field

Problems viewing this email? View it in your browser.
Digg Dialogg

Catch the latest Digg Dialogg videos

Director Peter Jackson & NFL star Adrian Peterson answer your questions!
Whether you're interested in films or football – or hopefully for this month, both – Digg Dialogg gives you access to some of the world's most interesting people. And this month, we're bringing you exclusive interviews with two guys at the top of their game.

We sat down with Academy Award-winning director Peter Jackson & Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and they tackled your top questions.
Digg Dialogg with Peter Jackson Digg Dialogg with Adrian Peterson
After you watch the videos – or heck, before – we'd love it if you'd take a quick (6 question) survey on Digg Dialogg. We're constantly trying to improve the program and interview people you'd most like to hear from, so your feedback is incredibly helpful.

Take 2 Minutes to Help Improve Digg Dialogg

You can also send any feedback you have about Dialogg directly to


The Digg Team
What's a
Digg Dialogg?
You submit and vote on the questions you want to see answered. The most popular ones are asked during the video interview. It's like having an all-access pass to some of the most prominent people in the world!
Check out previous
Digg Dialoggs:
Oct 27, 2009
Watch the Dialogg
Sep 11, 2009
Watch the Dialogg
May 27, 2009
Watch the Dialogg
Nov 6, 2008
Watch the Dialogg
Home  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Use

You are receiving this email because you asked to receive updates from
Note: This email address is for distribution purposes only. Please do not reply to this email because your message will not be received.
If you wish to unsubscribe, please click here.

© Digg Inc. 2009
135 Mississippi St
San Francisco, CA 94107

Home page of the Meteor Shower Flux Estimator (FLUXTIMATOR)

Calculate the meteor shower activity at your site

Speech is conveniently located...

Speech is conveniently located midway between thought and action, where it often substitutes for both.
John Andrew Holmes, "
Wisdom in Small Doses"

About E-Readers

Since I got my Kindle I am reading far more, and reading a far more diverse selection of books than ever before. So if you are concerned with getting more people reading, then e-books are a great technology. I am not against regular books, though I do wish their paper came from hemp, or recycled rags, and not trees. But that aside, I love books. My problem with books is that I love them more than my physical abilities will permit their indulgence; I have a bad back, and so the number of books on my Kindle - now over 114 - would be impossible if they were in their traditional paper format.

The recent news about WalMart's plans to slash prices on books affects only a few titles, and not ones that I have any interest in reading, like Sara Palin's memoir, so this appears to be an attempt to drive traffic to their new website more than a serious threat for traditional publishing to sweat about.

Puny Jokes

1. The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was -- -- Sir
Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.

2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island -- -- but it
turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

3. She was only a whiskey maker -- -- but he loved her still.

4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class -- --
because it was a weapon of math disruption.

5. The butcher backed into the meat grinder -- -- and got a little
behind in his work.

6. No matter how much you push the envelope, -- -- it'll still be

7. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road -- -- and was cited for

8. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France -- -- would result in
Linoleum Blownapart.

9. Two silk worms had a race -- -- they ended up in a tie.

10. Time flies like an arrow -- -- fruit flies like a banana.

11. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall -- -- the police are
looking into it.

12. Atheism --- is a non-prophet organization.

13. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway -- -- One hat
said to the other, 'You stay here, I'll go on a head.'

14. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger -- -- then, it
hit me

15. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab centre said -- -- ˜Keep off the

16. A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital --
-- his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was, a nurse said, 'No
change yet.'

17. A chicken crossing the road -- -- is poultry in motion.

18. The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison -- -- was a small
medium at large.

19. The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray -- -- is now
a seasoned veteran.

20. A backward poet -- -- writes inverse.

21. In democracy, it's your vote that counts. -- -- in feudalism, it's
your count that votes.

22. When cannibals ate a missionary -- -- they got a taste of

23. Don't join dangerous cults -- -- practice safe sects!

Barak Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize

The Norwegian Nobel Committee

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2009

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.

Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama's initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population.

For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world's leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama's appeal that 'Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.'

Oslo, October 9, 2009

Analysis: What they saw during the Gates arrest

Henry Louis Gates Jr. felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up as he looked across the threshold of his home at Sgt. James Crowley. Looking back at Gates, Crowley worried about making it home safely to his wife and three children.

Fear was the only thing the white police officer and black scholar had in common. Soon their many differences would collide, exploding into a colossal misunderstanding.

How could things go so wrong? How could two by all accounts decent men start a fire that drew comparisons to the O.J. Simpson case and knocked President Barack Obama off his racial tightrope?

Part of the answer lies in the truth seen through each man's eyes during the episode, which ended with one of the most influential men in America charged with disorderly conduct.

If this really is to become a "teachable moment," as Obama hopes, then we have to examine what they saw, according to their public statements — and why they saw it that way.


It's early afternoon on Ware Street in Cambridge, Mass., a few blocks from the campus of Harvard University. Gates and his car service driver, a large black man, are trying to force open Gates' jammed front door. Lucia Whalen, a 40-year-old white woman who works up the street at the Harvard alumni magazine, is passing by and calls 911.

According to Crowley's police report, he arrived to find Whalen standing on the sidewalk in front of the home. She told Crowley that "she observed what appeared to be two black men with backpacks on the porch ... her suspicions were aroused when she observed one of the men wedging his shoulder into the door," the report says.

No one is blaming Whalen, who has not spoken publicly since the story broke.

"It wasn't her fault," Gates said.

We don't know how she sees the world, what types of experiences color her vision.

But had she shared just one or two different details with Crowley — or if the sergeant had gleaned something else from their conversation — things might have happened differently.

Gates, 58 and gray-haired, says he was dressed in a blazer and walking with a cane. He says his driver was wearing a black suit jacket and matching pants. After they forced open the door, Gates says, the driver carried Gates' luggage into the house, then drove off in the vehicle.

None of that was on Crowley's mind when he walked up the steps to Gates home.

"Witnesses are inherently reliable," he said later. "She told me what she saw."


Crowley is on the porch, alone; Gates is inside his home. They apparently notice each other through the front door window at about the same time.

Crowley sees the unknown: "I really wasn't sure exactly what I was dealing with," he said later.

The sergeant is 42, a decorated 11-year police veteran who grew up attending diverse public schools in Cambridge. All three of his brothers work in law enforcement. He's an instructor in a police academy class on how to avoid racial profiling.

He asks Gates to step outside.

"I was the only police officer standing there and I got a report that there was people breaking into a house. (The request) was for my safety, because first and foremost I have to go home at night, I have three beautiful children and a wife who depend on me," he said later.

"So I had no other motive other than to ensure my safety, because this gentleman either could have been one of the people breaking in, or he could have been the homeowner who was unaware that there were people in his house unauthorized. I just didn't know."

Gates, meanwhile, is a renowned scholar of black history who has spent most of his life literally cataloguing the sins of the past in volumes like "Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience."

"I know every incident in the history of racism from slavery to Jim Crow segregation," he said recently.

He knows some of it firsthand. About 1989, hired by Stanley Fish to teach at Duke University in Durham, N.C., "one of the first things Gates did was buy the grandest house in town," Fish wrote in a recent blog on The New York Times' Web site.

"During the renovation workers would often take Gates for a servant and ask to be pointed to the house's owner. The drivers of delivery trucks made the same mistake."

"The message was unmistakable: What was a black man doing living in a place like this?" Fish wrote.

So when Gates hears Crowley ask him to step outside, he sees history. How could he not?

"All the hairs stood up on the back of my neck, and I realized that I was in danger," Gates said later. "And I said to him no, out of instinct. I said, 'No, I will not.'"


Crowley asks Gates to prove he lives there.

Looking out his front door, Gates sees someone who should be asking, "Is everything all right, sir?" He sees someone who would not doubt that a 58-year-old, gray-haired Harvard professor lived in this home — if he were white.

Gates sees a racist.

Gates leaves the front door to get his identification. Crowley follows him inside. Gates says he provided a driver's license with the address of the home they were standing in; Crowley's police report only mentions a Harvard ID.

"Now it's clear that he had a narrative in his head," Gates said. "A black man was inside someone's house, probably a white person's house, and this black man had broken and entered, and this black man was me."

Gates demands that the sergeant provide HIS identification.

Crowley sees someone who should be grateful, but instead is yelling and falsely accusing him of being a racist. He sees a problem — "something you wouldn't expect from anybody that should be grateful that you're there investigating a report of a crime in progress," he said.

Neither man understood what the other one saw.


Gates continues to demand that Crowley provide his name and badge number.

Crowley said in his report that he had already told Gates his name, twice, but Gates was yelling too much to hear him. Gates said Crowley ignored his demands.

Gates doesn't let up. Crowley says he'll talk to Gates outside. Then he says something Crowley understands perfectly, boiling down his 2,095 pages of "Africana" down into one cry of resistance:

"I'll speak with your mama outside," he said, according to the police report.

Gates denies making the remark.

Should Gates have realized that you can't antagonize the police? Should Crowley have understood what it means to suspect a black man of breaking into his own home? Arguments will persist for years.

Once he recovered his balance, backing off his statement that Crowley acted "stupidly," he Obama assumed his traditional position of racial referee and said that both men overreacted.

"My hope," the first black president continued, "is that as a consequence of this event, this ends up being what's called a teachable moment, where all of us, instead of pumping up the volume, spend a little more time listening to each other ... and that instead of flinging accusations, we can all be a little more reflective in terms of what we can do to contribute to more unity."


EDITOR'S NOTE: Jesse Washington covers race and ethnicity for The Associated Press.

(This version CORRECTS Gates denies making remark about 'your mama.')


Fred Sontag - In Memoriam

in memoriam

After over fifty-five years of teaching at the Pomona — the longest tenure of any faculty member in the College's history — Fred Sontag died on June 14, 2009 at the age of 84.

Fred touched countless students during his time in the Philosophy Department. He continued to be a devoted teacher, mentor, and researcher until his official retirement from the College, just one month before his death. The Department is saddened and diminshed by his loss. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.

For more about Fred, including photos, articles, and tributes from his recent retirement, please see the College's memorial page.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Hacking While Drunk

"How ethanol can make you a better programmer

Mon, 11 May 2009 22:00" or

N. Korea warns of 'thousand-fold' military action -

N. Korea warns of 'thousand-fold' military action

bada bing bada boom

bada bing bada boom - Wiktionary
bada bing bada boom
1. To express that a task was easily completed; simple to accomplish.
2. Used to euphemize what is said, sometimes to the extent that only the initiated will understand what is implied:
Ya know wee go n bada bing bada boom n we ah atta thereah .... day won't know what hit um!
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

The Bada Bing's logoImage via Wikipedia

Under capitalism, man exploits... - ...

"Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite."
    John Kenneth Galbraith
    US (Canadian-born) administrator & economist (1908 - 2006)

Quote Details: John Kenneth Galbraith: Under capitalism, man exploits... - The Quotations Page (20 May 2009)

Mexico on path to decriminalize personal possession of drugs - Wikinews, the free news source

Mexico on path to decriminalize personal possession of drugs - Wikinews, the free news source

Test your knowledge of the last week's news with Wikinews' World News Quiz.

Mexico on path to decriminalize personal possession of drugs Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!: Jane Austen, Seth Grahame-Smith: The Kindle Store

Cover of "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies...Cover via Amazon Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!: Jane Austen, Seth Grahame-Smith: The Kindle Store
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


"A Town Like Alice" was a great read. So was "On the Beach." Nevil Shute is a hidde gem for much of the English speaking world, even though he was Australian.

My two most memorable reads were "Watership Down" by Adams, and "Demian" by Hesse.

But, I'm on a roll, so here are some other books that I really enjoyed: 
"The Mysterious Island" by Jules Verne
"The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas (who was of African descent, by the way; not many people know that. So were Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Alexander Pushkin.)
"Cat's Cradle" by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (super smart and funny)
"Franny and Zoey" by J. D. Salinger.
These last two are my all time favs.

Aldous Huxley's Perennial Philosophy

Aldous Huxley's Perennial Philosophy: "The Perennial Philosophy"

The Peekaboo Paradox -

The Peekaboo Paradox -

The Peekaboo Paradox
The strange secrets of humor, fear and a guy who makes big money making little people laugh.

By Gene Weingarten
Sunday, January 22, 2006; W10

The Great Zucchini arrived early, as he is apt to do, and began to make demands, as is his custom. He was too warm, so he wanted the thermostat adjusted. It was. He declared the basement family room adequate for his needs, but there was a problem with the room next door. Something had to be done about it.

Canadian Concentration Camps

Canadian Concentration Camps: "Unlike the Japanese Americans the Japanese Canadians were not allowed to join the military until after 1945. In spite of the incarceration, the Japanese Canadians volunteered to serve in the Canadian Armed Forces.

In 1945 the Canadian government extended the War Measures Act which allowed the MacKenzie King government to execute the 'final solution' which forced these Japanese Canadian citizens to repatriate to Japan (a country most of the Japanese Canadians had never been to before) or a forced a 'dispersal' to eastern or midwest Canada. Until 1949 it was illegal for the Japanese Canadians to return to Vancouver or western Canada, despite the end of the war.

For the Japanese Canadians there were no homes, farms, and other property left behind before internment. They were forced to start their lives over, with no economic resources, in an estranged and racially repressive environment of midwest and eastern Canada.

In 1988 redress for the Japanese Canadians was passed and the Prime Minister issued an apology for the miscarriage of justice that led to internment and incarceration. Yet the $21,000 of redress money hardly compensates for the lost years of incarceration, property confiscated, family separations and disruptions, and the invisible psychological scars and memories of racial injustices that remain."

That's All She Wrote

I woke this morning with the question, where does the phrase, "That's all she wrote," come frome?

My first thought was my grandmother's answer to my question after reading Gone with the Wind.

An equally plausible explanation is that it arose from the war time letters to GI's from their girlfriends.

Bush's Signing Statements - Bending or Breaking the Law


Bush challenges hundreds of laws
President cites powers of his office

WASHINGTON -- President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.

Among the laws Bush said he can ignore are military rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems, ''whistle-blower" protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research.

Legal scholars say the scope and aggression of Bush's assertions that he can bypass laws represent a concerted effort to expand his power at the expense of Congress, upsetting the balance between the branches of government. The Constitution is clear in assigning to Congress the power to write the laws and to the president a duty ''to take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Bush, however, has repeatedly declared that he does not need to ''execute" a law he believes is unconstitutional.

Former administration officials contend that just because Bush reserves the right to disobey a law does not mean he is not enforcing it: In many cases, he is simply asserting his belief that a certain requirement encroaches on presidential power.

But with the disclosure of Bush's domestic spying program, in which he ignored a law requiring warrants to tap the phones of Americans, many legal specialists say Bush is hardly reluctant to bypass laws he believes he has the constitutional authority to override.

Far more than any predecessor, Bush has been aggressive about declaring his right to ignore vast swaths of laws -- many of which he says infringe on power he believes the Constitution assigns to him alone as the head of the executive branch or the commander in chief of the military.

Many legal scholars say they believe that Bush's theory about his own powers goes too far and that he is seizing for himself some of the law-making role of Congress and the Constitution-interpreting role of the courts.

Phillip Cooper, a Portland State University law professor who has studied the executive power claims Bush made during his first term, said Bush and his legal team have spent the past five years quietly working to concentrate ever more governmental power into the White House.

''There is no question that this administration has been involved in a very carefully thought-out, systematic process of expanding presidential power at the expense of the other branches of government," Cooper said. ''This is really big, very expansive, and very significant."

For the first five years of Bush's presidency, his legal claims attracted little attention in Congress or the media. Then, twice in recent months, Bush drew scrutiny after challenging new laws: a torture ban and a requirement that he give detailed reports to Congress about how he is using the Patriot Act.

Bush administration spokesmen declined to make White House or Justice Department attorneys available to discuss any of Bush's challenges to the laws he has signed.

Instead, they referred a Globe reporter to their response to questions about Bush's position that he could ignore provisions of the Patriot Act. They said at the time that Bush was following a practice that has ''been used for several administrations" and that ''the president will faithfully execute the law in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution."

But the words ''in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution" are the catch, legal scholars say, because Bush is according himself the ultimate interpretation of the Constitution. And he is quietly exercising that authority to a degree that is unprecedented in US history.

Bush is the first president in modern history who has never vetoed a bill, giving Congress no chance to override his judgments. Instead, he has signed every bill that reached his desk, often inviting the legislation's sponsors to signing ceremonies at which he lavishes praise upon their work.

Then, after the media and the lawmakers have left the White House, Bush quietly files ''signing statements" -- official documents in which a president lays out his legal interpretation of a bill for the federal bureaucracy to follow when implementing the new law. The statements are recorded in the federal register.

In his signing statements, Bush has repeatedly asserted that the Constitution gives him the right to ignore numerous sections of the bills -- sometimes including provisions that were the subject of negotiations with Congress in order to get lawmakers to pass the bill. He has appended such statements to more than one of every 10 bills he has signed.

''He agrees to a compromise with members of Congress, and all of them are there for a public bill-signing ceremony, but then he takes back those compromises -- and more often than not, without the Congress or the press or the public knowing what has happened," said Christopher Kelley, a Miami University of Ohio political science professor who studies executive power.

Military link

Many of the laws Bush said he can bypass -- including the torture ban -- involve the military.

The Constitution grants Congress the power to create armies, to declare war, to make rules for captured enemies, and ''to make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces." But, citing his role as commander in chief, Bush says he can ignore any act of Congress that seeks to regulate the military.

On at least four occasions while Bush has been president, Congress has passed laws forbidding US troops from engaging in combat in Colombia, where the US military is advising the government in its struggle against narcotics-funded Marxist rebels.

After signing each bill, Bush declared in his signing statement that he did not have to obey any of the Colombia restrictions because he is commander in chief.

Bush has also said he can bypass laws requiring him to tell Congress before diverting money from an authorized program in order to start a secret operation, such as the ''black sites" where suspected terrorists are secretly imprisoned.

Congress has also twice passed laws forbidding the military from using intelligence that was not ''lawfully collected," including any information on Americans that was gathered in violation of the Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable searches.

Congress first passed this provision in August 2004, when Bush's warrantless domestic spying program was still a secret, and passed it again after the program's existence was disclosed in December 2005.

On both occasions, Bush declared in signing statements that only he, as commander in chief, could decide whether such intelligence can be used by the military.

In October 2004, five months after the Abu Ghraib torture scandal in Iraq came to light, Congress passed a series of new rules and regulations for military prisons. Bush signed the provisions into law, then said he could ignore them all. One provision made clear that military lawyers can give their commanders independent advice on such issues as what would constitute torture. But Bush declared that military lawyers could not contradict his administration's lawyers.

Other provisions required the Pentagon to retrain military prison guards on the requirements for humane treatment of detainees under the Geneva Conventions, to perform background checks on civilian contractors in Iraq, and to ban such contractors from performing ''security, intelligence, law enforcement, and criminal justice functions." Bush reserved the right to ignore any of the requirements.

The new law also created the position of inspector general for Iraq. But Bush wrote in his signing statement that the inspector ''shall refrain" from investigating any intelligence or national security matter, or any crime the Pentagon says it prefers to investigate for itself.

Bush had placed similar limits on an inspector general position created by Congress in November 2003 for the initial stage of the US occupation of Iraq. The earlier law also empowered the inspector to notify Congress if a US official refused to cooperate. Bush said the inspector could not give any information to Congress without permission from the administration.

Oversight questioned

Many laws Bush has asserted he can bypass involve requirements to give information about government activity to congressional oversight committees.

In December 2004, Congress passed an intelligence bill requiring the Justice Department to tell them how often, and in what situations, the FBI was using special national security wiretaps on US soil. The law also required the Justice Department to give oversight committees copies of administration memos outlining any new interpretations of domestic-spying laws. And it contained 11 other requirements for reports about such issues as civil liberties, security clearances, border security, and counternarcotics efforts.

After signing the bill, Bush issued a signing statement saying he could withhold all the information sought by Congress.

Likewise, when Congress passed the law creating the Department of Homeland Security in 2002, it said oversight committees must be given information about vulnerabilities at chemical plants and the screening of checked bags at airports.

It also said Congress must be shown unaltered reports about problems with visa services prepared by a new immigration ombudsman. Bush asserted the right to withhold the information and alter the reports.

On several other occasions, Bush contended he could nullify laws creating ''whistle-blower" job protections for federal employees that would stop any attempt to fire them as punishment for telling a member of Congress about possible government wrongdoing.

When Congress passed a massive energy package in August, for example, it strengthened whistle-blower protections for employees at the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The provision was included because lawmakers feared that Bush appointees were intimidating nuclear specialists so they would not testify about safety issues related to a planned nuclear-waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada -- a facility the administration supported, but both Republicans and Democrats from Nevada opposed.

When Bush signed the energy bill, he issued a signing statement declaring that the executive branch could ignore the whistle-blower protections.

Bush's statement did more than send a threatening message to federal energy specialists inclined to raise concerns with Congress; it also raised the possibility that Bush would not feel bound to obey similar whistle-blower laws that were on the books before he became president. His domestic spying program, for example, violated a surveillance law enacted 23 years before he took office.

David Golove, a New York University law professor who specializes in executive-power issues, said Bush has cast a cloud over ''the whole idea that there is a rule of law," because no one can be certain of which laws Bush thinks are valid and which he thinks he can ignore.

''Where you have a president who is willing to declare vast quantities of the legislation that is passed during his term unconstitutional, it implies that he also thinks a very significant amount of the other laws that were already on the books before he became president are also unconstitutional," Golove said.

Defying Supreme Court

Bush has also challenged statutes in which Congress gave certain executive branch officials the power to act independently of the president. The Supreme Court has repeatedly endorsed the power of Congress to make such arrangements. For example, the court has upheld laws creating special prosecutors free of Justice Department oversight and insulating the board of the Federal Trade Commission from political interference.

Nonetheless, Bush has said in his signing statements that the Constitution lets him control any executive official, no matter what a statute passed by Congress might say.

In November 2002, for example, Congress, seeking to generate independent statistics about student performance, passed a law setting up an educational research institute to conduct studies and publish reports ''without the approval" of the Secretary of Education. Bush, however, decreed that the institute's director would be ''subject to the supervision and direction of the secretary of education."

Similarly, the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld affirmative-action programs, as long as they do not include quotas. Most recently, in 2003, the court upheld a race-conscious university admissions program over the strong objections of Bush, who argued that such programs should be struck down as unconstitutional.

Yet despite the court's rulings, Bush has taken exception at least nine times to provisions that seek to ensure that minorities are represented among recipients of government jobs, contracts, and grants. Each time, he singled out the provisions, declaring that he would construe them ''in a manner consistent with" the Constitution's guarantee of ''equal protection" to all -- which some legal scholars say amounts to an argument that the affirmative-action provisions represent reverse discrimination against whites.

Golove said that to the extent Bush is interpreting the Constitution in defiance of the Supreme Court's precedents, he threatens to ''overturn the existing structures of constitutional law."

A president who ignores the court, backed by a Congress that is unwilling to challenge him, Golove said, can make the Constitution simply ''disappear."

Common practice in '80s

Though Bush has gone further than any previous president, his actions are not unprecedented.

Since the early 19th century, American presidents have occasionally signed a large bill while declaring that they would not enforce a specific provision they believed was unconstitutional. On rare occasions, historians say, presidents also issued signing statements interpreting a law and explaining any concerns about it.

But it was not until the mid-1980s, midway through the tenure of President Reagan, that it became common for the president to issue signing statements. The change came about after then-Attorney General Edwin Meese decided that signing statements could be used to increase the power of the president.

When interpreting an ambiguous law, courts often look at the statute's legislative history, debate and testimony, to see what Congress intended it to mean. Meese realized that recording what the president thought the law meant in a signing statement might increase a president's influence over future court rulings.

Under Meese's direction in 1986, a young Justice Department lawyer named Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote a strategy memo about signing statements. It came to light in late 2005, after Bush named Alito to the Supreme Court.

In the memo, Alito predicted that Congress would resent the president's attempt to grab some of its power by seizing ''the last word on questions of interpretation." He suggested that Reagan's legal team should ''concentrate on points of true ambiguity, rather than issuing interpretations that may seem to conflict with those of Congress."

Reagan's successors continued this practice. George H.W. Bush challenged 232 statutes over four years in office, and Bill Clinton objected to 140 laws over his eight years, according to Kelley, the Miami University of Ohio professor.

Many of the challenges involved longstanding legal ambiguities and points of conflict between the president and Congress.

Throughout the past two decades, for example, each president -- including the current one -- has objected to provisions requiring him to get permission from a congressional committee before taking action. The Supreme Court made clear in 1983 that only the full Congress can direct the executive branch to do things, but lawmakers have continued writing laws giving congressional committees such a role.

Still, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton used the presidential veto instead of the signing statement if they had a serious problem with a bill, giving Congress a chance to override their decisions.

But the current President Bush has abandoned the veto entirely, as well as any semblance of the political caution that Alito counseled back in 1986. In just five years, Bush has challenged more than 750 new laws, by far a record for any president, while becoming the first president since Thomas Jefferson to stay so long in office without issuing a veto.

''What we haven't seen until this administration is the sheer number of objections that are being raised on every bill passed through the White House," said Kelley, who has studied presidential signing statements through history. ''That is what is staggering. The numbers are well out of the norm from any previous administration."

Exaggerated fears?

Some administration defenders say that concerns about Bush's signing statements are overblown. Bush's signing statements, they say, should be seen as little more than political chest-thumping by administration lawyers who are dedicated to protecting presidential prerogatives.

Defenders say the fact that Bush is reserving the right to disobey the laws does not necessarily mean he has gone on to disobey them.

Indeed, in some cases, the administration has ended up following laws that Bush said he could bypass. For example, citing his power to ''withhold information" in September 2002, Bush declared that he could ignore a law requiring the State Department to list the number of overseas deaths of US citizens in foreign countries. Nevertheless, the department has still put the list on its website.

Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law School professor who until last year oversaw the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel for the administration, said the statements do not change the law; they just let people know how the president is interpreting it.

''Nobody reads them," said Goldsmith. ''They have no significance. Nothing in the world changes by the publication of a signing statement. The statements merely serve as public notice about how the administration is interpreting the law. Criticism of this practice is surprising, since the usual complaint is that the administration is too secretive in its legal interpretations."

But Cooper, the Portland State University professor who has studied Bush's first-term signing statements, said the documents are being read closely by one key group of people: the bureaucrats who are charged with implementing new laws.

Lower-level officials will follow the president's instructions even when his understanding of a law conflicts with the clear intent of Congress, crafting policies that may endure long after Bush leaves office, Cooper said.

''Years down the road, people will not understand why the policy doesn't look like the legislation," he said.

And in many cases, critics contend, there is no way to know whether the administration is violating laws -- or merely preserving the right to do so.

Many of the laws Bush has challenged involve national security, where it is almost impossible to verify what the government is doing. And since the disclosure of Bush's domestic spying program, many people have expressed alarm about his sweeping claims of the authority to violate laws.

In January, after the Globe first wrote about Bush's contention that he could disobey the torture ban, three Republicans who were the bill's principal sponsors in the Senate -- John McCain of Arizona, John W. Warner of Virginia, and Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina -- all publicly rebuked the president.

''We believe the president understands Congress's intent in passing, by very large majorities, legislation governing the treatment of detainees," McCain and Warner said in a joint statement. ''The Congress declined when asked by administration officials to include a presidential waiver of the restrictions included in our legislation."

Added Graham: ''I do not believe that any political figure in the country has the ability to set aside any . . . law of armed conflict that we have adopted or treaties that we have ratified."

And in March, when the Globe first wrote about Bush's contention that he could ignore the oversight provisions of the Patriot Act, several Democrats lodged complaints.

Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, accused Bush of trying to ''cherry-pick the laws he decides he wants to follow."

And Representatives Jane Harman of California and John Conyers Jr. of Michigan -- the ranking Democrats on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees, respectively -- sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales demanding that Bush rescind his claim and abide by the law.

''Many members who supported the final law did so based upon the guarantee of additional reporting and oversight," they wrote. ''The administration cannot, after the fact, unilaterally repeal provisions of the law implementing such oversight. . . . Once the president signs a bill, he and all of us are bound by it."

Lack of court review

Such political fallout from Congress is likely to be the only check on Bush's claims, legal specialists said.

The courts have little chance of reviewing Bush's assertions, especially in the secret realm of national security matters.

''There can't be judicial review if nobody knows about it," said Neil Kinkopf, a Georgia State law professor who was a Justice Department official in the Clinton administration. ''And if they avoid judicial review, they avoid having their constitutional theories rebuked."

Without court involvement, only Congress can check a president who goes too far. But Bush's fellow Republicans control both chambers, and they have shown limited interest in launching the kind of oversight that could damage their party.

''The president is daring Congress to act against his positions, and they're not taking action because they don't want to appear to be too critical of the president, given that their own fortunes are tied to his because they are all Republicans," said Jack Beermann, a Boston University law professor. ''Oversight gets much reduced in a situation where the president and Congress are controlled by the same party."

Said Golove, the New York University law professor: ''Bush has essentially said that 'We're the executive branch and we're going to carry this law out as we please, and if Congress wants to impeach us, go ahead and try it.' "

Bruce Fein, a deputy attorney general in the Reagan administration, said the American system of government relies upon the leaders of each branch ''to exercise some self-restraint." But Bush has declared himself the sole judge of his own powers, he said, and then ruled for himself every time.

''This is an attempt by the president to have the final word on his own constitutional powers, which eliminates the checks and balances that keep the country a democracy," Fein said. ''There is no way for an independent judiciary to check his assertions of power, and Congress isn't doing it, either. So this is moving us toward an unlimited executive power."

© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.